Supporting NSMen Employees: How does the reservist system work in Singapore?

reservist system singapore
Reading Time: 5 minutes

As you may already know, every male Singapore citizen who has completed his two-year National Service (NS) becomes a National Serviceman (NSman). From there, he takes on the rank of Singapore’s Operationally Ready National Serviceman (ORNS) and undergoes ORNS activities in the reservist system. That can take up at most 40 days per year.

As the employer, you will need to note that the Singapore government legally obliges companies to support their employees’ NS commitments. So what are the different NS obligations that you, as an employer, ought to take note of? Here’s a detailed rundown of how the reservist system works in Singapore.

An NSman will receive advanced notice for his In-Camp Training (ICT)

He may receive the notification about 1 to 6 months before the call-up commences, via SMS or email. The notification periods vary base on the type of ORNS activity, as follows:

Type of call-upNotification periodSession duration
High Key (HK) ICT/Course6 months in advance7 days or more
Low Key (LK) ICT/Course3 months in advanceLess than 7 days
HK Make-Up Training (MUT)2 months in advanceVaries with each individual
LK MUT1 month in advanceVaries with each individual
A call-up that lasts 1 day or less1 month in advance1 day or less

The Singapore government puts these advance notices in place to allow the company ample time in preparing for the employee’ absence. This is done to help minimise disruption to an NSman’s work schedules.

READ IN NEW TAB  A 2-Minute Review of the CPF Changes in 2015

So, what are the next steps upon receiving the advanced notification?

Then, he will need to notify you of his NS commitments

Your employee will need to give you an official notice once he receives his training notification. This will be a SAF100 form in soft copy, which states his ORNS activity details (e.g. reporting date, time, venue, etc.). He can retrieve his eSAF100 form from his NS Portal account.

Then, you will need to ensure that your employee can apply for Reservist Leave. Some traditional HR systems may require you to manually set up Reservist Leave for the relevant employees.

Other HR systems like Talenox will help you automatically ensure that Reservist Leave can only be available to employees who meet the following requirements:

  1. Gender: Male
  2. Immigration Status: Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents.

In the reservist system, service pay will be provided to staff on ICT

This includes Saturdays and Sundays. All in all, service pay is paid according to the NSman’s rank and vocation. If there is a shortfall between their civilian salary and their service pay, you can apply for make-up pay (MUP). This is calculated based on your employee’s basic salary or allowance payable during his ICT.

Consider registering for DIRECT

As the employer, you can register for direct reimbursement of MUP under Direct Reimbursement to Employers of Claims for NS Training Scheme (DIRECT). Under this arrangement, you will continue to pay your staff as per your company’s pay schedule; in turn, you will get reimbursement from the government.

With this arrangement, payment will be made directly to your company. Your staff will therefore not need to file a claim. Claims should be submitted 2 weeks prior to commencement of ICT and can either be done via the NS portal, or the make-up claim form which can be downloaded online.

Not registering with the DIRECT scheme

If you choose to go with the Indirect Scheme, calculate the salary proration for that month using our Salary Proration Calculator. Then ensure that the NS Leave Claim Deduction is factored into the payroll process. If you’re using the Talenox system, here’s how you can carry this out easily in Step 2 of 3 in your payroll process.

Continued CPF contribution

Do note that MINDEF’s reimbursement to the employee is a Net Amount; hence, full CPF contribution will still be deducted. In other words, you should continue to pay your staff’s CPF contribution based on the usual remuneration during the ICT period.

READ IN NEW TAB  Malaysia Public Holiday 2023: How to maximise your leave days

Other considerations within the Singapore reservist system

ICT deferment for personal reasons

An NSman may apply for deferment – via Manage Call-Ups & Manning on the NS Portal – on compassionate grounds for the following personal reasons:

  1. Examinations or professional evaluations
  2. Marriage and honeymoon
  3. Birth of a child
  4. Compassionate grounds (e.g. serious illness or death of next-of-kin)

ICT deferment for work-related reasons

While work commitments are not grounds for deferment given the generous notification period provided to the NSman, certain work-related deferments may be granted, such as:

  1. New employment (i.e. first three months of employment with your company)
  2. Risk of temporary understaffing (i.e. when two or more NSmen employed in the same capacity in the same department of your company are called up for ICT at the same time.)
  3. Newly established business

Such an application should be accompanied by relevant supporting documents. Do note that the NS Portal only allows up to a maximum of 5 documents for the application.

What to expect after ICT deferment application

After the submission, the applicant will be able to track his application status and receive an outcome letter in the same eService within 14 working days. He will also be notified of his deferment application’s outcome via SMS and email, as well as a letter through the same eService.

All in all, these notifications of the applicant’s deferment request will state not just the outcome but also the required action for his application. Moreover, NSmen who defer their ICTs need to attend Make-Up Training; in these cases, they will only receive a notice period of 1 month for their Make-Up Training.

The repercussions to expect for being absent

If an NSman is absent from the ORNS activity without approval, he will be called back for investigation. In this case, he may be subjected to disciplinary action.

Factoring an NSman’s overseas travel for work

As the employer, you will need to take note of the following requirements for notification of overseas movements, should you intend to send your employee for overseas assignments:

No. of days on overseas assignment(s)Requirement for notification of overseas movement
14 days or lessNo notification required
More than 14 days, but less than 6 monthsInform relevant authorities of the overseas trip through the NS Portal
More than 6 monthsMust apply for exit permit through the NS Portal

All in all, NSmen who have to travel overseas for more than 14 days need to notify the relevant authorities of their travel or apply for their exit permit through the NS Portal. Alternatively, for trips of more than 14 days but less than 6 months, your employee can call the NS hotline at 1800 367 6767.

Recommended Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Good reads come to those who click.

Subscribe for quarterly email updates on the latest articles here.

NOTE: You are signing up for the Talenox Blog's email newsletter. By subscribing, you read, agree, and consent to our Privacy Policy ( and Terms of Conditions (